Manas Wildlife Sanctuary
The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam is located on a gentle slope at the foothills of the Himalayas, where wooded hills give way to alluvial grasslands and tropical forests. Covering an area of 39,100 hectares, it spans the Manas River and is bounded to the north by the forests of Bhutan. The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary provides critical and viable habitats for rare and endangered species including the tiger, greater one-horned rhino, swamp deer, pygmy hog and Bengal florican.
The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary provides habitat for 22 of India's most threatened species of mammals. In total, there are nearly 60 mammal species, 42 reptile species, 7 amphibians and 500 species of birds of which 26 are globally endangered. The park gets its name from the Manas River which is named after the serpent Goddess Manasa. The Manas River flows through the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary which is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site because of its rich bio-diversity.
The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary lies in the foothills of the Outer Himalayas. The Manas River flows through the western portion of the park where it splits into three separate rivers and joins the Brahmaputra some 64 kms further south. These rivers carry an enormous amount of silt and rock debris from the foothills which leads to the formation of alluvial terraces. The area of the Boki basin, in the west of the park, is sometimes flooded during the monsoon. The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary consists of tropical semi-evergreen forests in the north, tropical moist and dry deciduous forests over most of its area and extensive alluvial grasslands in the west. There is also a considerable variety of aquatic flora along the river banks and in the numerous pools.
The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is noted for its spectacular scenery with a variety of habitat types that support a diverse fauna, making it the richest of all India wildlife sanctuaries. It is famous for its Tiger Reserve. The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary also provides protection for migratory wildlife. In fact, the Manas National Park harbours the greatest number of India's Schedule-1 mammals of any protected area in the country. These include the golden langur, capped langur, hoolock gibbon, clouded leopard, tiger, leopard cat and golden cat.
The most endangered animals in the Manas National Park are the golden langur, pygmy hog and hispid hare. The pygmy hog is the smallest member of the pig family and, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is one of the 12 most endangered animals in the world. It was rediscovered in the Manas National Park in 1971.
The richness and diversity of its flora and fauna have made the Manas National Park one of the most popular wildlife destinations in India today.